Jen Henderson is a journalist breaking news in the capital region. She is a staff reporter at the St. Albert Gazette and  covers provincial and federal politics, crime and court. 

Animal abuse charges laid in Sturgeon County

Animal abuse charges laid in Sturgeon County

An Edmonton man has been charged with multiple offences involving animal cruelty after a dead dog and nine medically distressed dogs were found on his property in Sturgeon County.

On Dec. 14, 2016 Redwater RCMP were asked by the Edmonton Police Service to check on a home in Sturgeon County to ensure the property owner was abiding by court conditions to not own or possess animals.

During the RCMP visit, Mounties said no one appeared to be home, but they found large amounts of animal feces on the front and back porches.

The next day RCMP and ASPCA peace officers executed a search warrant at the residence. Nine pit bulls were found in kennels in various stages of medical distress. RCMP said some of the dogs had injuries to their faces and legs and had signs of being malnourished.

One pit bull was found dead outside the residence.

The Edmonton Humane Society was called to the scene and transported the dogs to Edmonton. Animal Services is not able to comment on the current condition of the nine seized dogs or the cause of death for the deceased dog.

Justin Lawrence Iverson, 30, of Edmonton has been charged with five counts of cruelty to animals, five counts of causing injury to animals and 10 counts of failing to comply with recognizance.

In December, Iverson was charged with eight counts of animal cruelty in relation to an Edmonton breeding organization. He was also charged with two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.


Iverson is set to appear in Fort Saskatchewan Provincial Court on Feb. 16, 2017 in relation to the most recent charges against him.

It is common for Animal Services to see dogs in various states of distress but supervisor B. Grey said it is rare to see that many pets come from the same address.

Pet purchase tips

Grey said there are many warning signs to look for when purchasing a pet from a breeder or an accidental litter.

To ensure the pet is being kept safely, Grey said shoppers should ask to see the parents, the litter mates and the area the pets are being kept in.

“It is important to see what kind of environment they are coming from,” Grey said. “If they won’t let you come see the parents or the living conditions that should be a concern right away.”

If the breeders have a number of different animals listed on a number of different sites, Grey said consumers should be wary.

Many breeders will offer a contact when purchasing a pet and Grey said that is a good sign of a reputable organization.

To prevent animal abuse, Animal Services has a watchdog program which helps allow communities to stay on the lookout for animal abuse. Grey said when Animal Services seizes pets they have usually been living in unsuitable and abusive conditions for a long time,. The Watch Dog program empowers neighbours to call in suspicious activity earlier to protect the pets.

“Maybe you are the one phone call we are waiting for so we can take further legal action,” Grey said.

Signs of suspicious activity from pet owners that may warrant an investigation is large quantities of food being brought in and out of the home, a large number of animals coming and going from the property, lots of barking and many different animals playing in the yard.

Anyone witnessing signs of animal cruelty in St. Albert can call the Alberta SPCA 1-800-455-9003. Anyone making a complaint in good faith is protected under the Animal Protection Act of Alberta.

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